‘True Detective’ episode 5 ends with a violent shootout with a secret detail you missed 

True Detective: Night Country Episode 5 ends with a tense standoff and an explosive death. As Detective Liz Danvers (Jodie Foster), partner Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis), and protege Peter Prior (Finn Bennet) get closer to the truth about the connections between the murder of Annie K (Nivi Pedersen), the mystery surrounding the Tsalal Arctic Research Station, and Silver Sky, it becomes all too clear that Hank Prior (John Hawkes) has been doing dirty work for the bad guys. The episode crescendoes with Hank arriving at Danvers’s house to murder Otis Heiss. He does so, and that’s when everything unravels…

**Spoilers for True Detective: Night Country Episode 5, now streaming on Max**

True Detective Season 4 Episode 5 ends with Hank’s son, Peter, walking in on a deathly stand off between his father and boss. As soon as Hank’s betrayal is confirmed — with him pointing his gun at Danvers and confessing that he did not kill Annie —  Peter Prior kills his own father to save Danvers.

According to True Detective: Night Country creator, writer, and director Issa López, Prior’s heartbreaking choice was inevitable from the start.

“I knew that Hank had to die from the conception of Hank,” López told Decider. What wasn’t immediately clear, however, was who would do the killing.

“As I kept writing the scripts, it changed hands, the delivery of that death. And then at some point, I realized that the one thing that was going to be the most profoundly upsetting for us, for everyone involved, is that it’s his own son,” López said. “But he’s the only one that really has the right to end that, you know?”

John Hawkes as Hank Prior in 'True Detective' Season 4 Episode 5
Photo: HBO

López also revealed to Decider that Hank Prior’s death might not be exactly what you think it was. True Detective star John Hawkes made a choice on set that López kept in the final edit of the episode that suggests Hank chose to die.

“If you look closely, John Hawkes, who’s a master in performance, he doesn’t have his finger on the trigger when he points the gun at [Jodie] Foster. And he made a point of this,” López said. “What he does is he kills himself by doing that gesture. He was never going to shoot Jodie.”

According to López, Hank Prior knows in this moment that “it’s over for him” because “his son has seen him for who he is.” Not only that, but Peter is firmly in Danver’s camp. He’s never going to take his father’s side, especially realizing how involved Hank has been in covering up Annie K.’s murder.

“[Hank] knows how this is going to end. At this point, everything is going to come to the light. And that’s why he says, ‘I didn’t kill Annie,’ and he points the gun — not with a finger on the trigger to Danvers — knowing that his son was a good, good cop. The one good cop in the entire show. (The one good one because he’s young, you know?) He’s going to stop him and he goes down.”

Of course, after slaying his father, Peter can no longer be a “good cop.” When Navarro arrives to discover the bloody scene, she argues that Danvers can’t call Connelly (Christopher Eccleston) because it will mean Peter goes down. She concocts a plan to stage Hank’s death as an accident in the snowstorm currently rocking Ennis. Prior not only goes along, but he also insists on being the one to cover it all up so Danvers and Navarro are free to pursue the truth about what happened to Annie…